United Kingdom

Visual arts mostly spared from Arts Council England cuts

Many organisations funded by ACE will actually see an increase over the next five years

ACE funding table

london. The visual arts survived the Arts Council England (ACE) cuts better than most sectors, including theatre, music and dance. Visual arts organisations funded by ACE will overall actually receive a 2% increase in their grants from 2010/11 to 2014/15, although once inflation is taken into account this represents a 7% fall in real terms.

In its long-awaited 30 March announcement, details were announced of how ACE will deal with the 30% real-terms cut which the Treasury imposed in its spending review last October. ACE decided that a 15% cut would have to be passed on to the “front-line” organisations it funds, with the remainder being absorbed elsewhere.

Following the spending review, 1,333 arts organisations (in all sectors) applied for grants, of which 695 were successful, leaving 638 which receiving nothing. ACE chairwoman Liz Forgan admits that difficult decisions had to be made, but it was important to be “bold”.

In the visual arts, some organisations which had been funded have been dropped, including Museums Sheffield, Castlefield Gallery (Manchester) and the Visual Arts and Galleries Association (VAGA).

The Art Newspaper has examined the fate of the major visual arts organisations (see table at right or click here), all of which are now due to receive over £500,000 in 2014/15. The Baltic Centre (Gateshead) has been given a cut, but this is relatively small, and it still gets by far the largest ACE grant for a gallery. The Whitechapel, which opened a new extension in 2009, has an increase. So too does the Serpentine, which is taking over The Magazine building in Kensington Gardens to transform it into the Serpentine Sackler Gallery next year. New galleries opening later this year are also receiving increases: Turner Contemporary (Margate), The Hepworth (Wakefield) and Firstsite (Colchester).

The Crafts Council, which was funded directly by government until 2000, faces a 15% cut. Among the worst hit is London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, which has been facing major problems, leading to the resignation last August of its director Ekow Eshun.

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